Valdosta Daily Times

May 7, 2014

Back in Business

Valwood opens spring practices

Derrick Davis
The Valdosta Daily Times

HAHIRA — Losing seniors is never easy, especially when those 17 seniors had reached back-to-back state championship games, but that's the path Valwood must travel this year as the Valiants begin their spring practices.

Tuesday marked the second of the Valiants' 10 allotted spring practices and instead of focusing on who they need to replace Valwood's head coach Ashley Henderson would rather look at who he has to build around.

"The senior class we have now you can look at one of two ways, you can look at who we lost, or you can look at who's coming back because this class of seniors is 26-1 in the last 27 ballgames," said Henderson. "This bunch is hungry, this bunch wants to finish the deal this year.

"We have great leadership this year and a strong junior class behind them, so I'm excited about what this year holds for Valwood football."

Zack and Zane Edmondson, Jack Helms, and Marik Merine are among the 2014-2015 class seniors looking for a little retribution after seeing their dreams of two consecutive perfect seasons dashed in the championship game by Memorial Day.

Valwood won't have to wait long to get their shot against the defending champions though, the Matadors travel to Goddard Field on August 22 to open the season against the Valiants.

Henderson said his players were still frustrated by the loss and no extra motivation is needed to be ready for the start of the season. The two teams have played extremely close since Henderson arrived at Valwood with the Valiants holding a 2-1 edge.

"The last two years, the three times we've played them, even the first time we played them, the score was a little misleading. They gave us all we wanted and we were able to pour it on in the second half, said Henderson. "Last year we beat them by a field goal and then they smoked us in the championship, so we don't need to remind them who's who.

"When they walk into our locker room and see that's the first game of the year, that's all the motivation they need."

After suffering a deflating loss in the GISA championship game, the Valiants have rededicated themselves to working on the basics this spring.

"Technique, fundamentals, and playing fast too. A sense of urgency; a lot of things can take place during a win streak," said Henderson. "I don't think we necessarily let our guard down, but there is a definite new sense of hunger."

The Valiants in attendance have been exposed to a new training plan this season. Valdosta's Kinetix Gym will be working with Valwood all season in hopes of getting more out of the players in limited practice time.

Valwood's still missing 14 players at spring practices due to baseball season, but Henderson isn't pushing for them to be back anytime soon.

"Winning breeds winning," said Henderson.